Act 1, Scene I

Scene: An Apartment in the Palace.

Enter CLEON, STRATO, LYSIPPUS, and DIPHILUS.

Cleon.
The rest are making ready, sir.
Lysippus.
So let them;
There's time enough.
Diphilus.
You are the brother to the king, my lord;
We'll take your word.
Lysippus.
Strato, thou hast some skill in poetry:
What think'st thou of the masque? will it be well?
Strato.
As well as masque can be.
Lysippus.
As masque can be?
Strato.
Yes; they must commend their king, and speak in praise
Of the assembly; bless the bride and bridegroom
In person of some god. They are tied to rules
Of flattery.
Cleon.
See, good my lord, who is return'd!

Enter MELANTIUS.

Lysippus.
Noble Melantius! the land, by me,
Welcomes thy virtues home to Rhodes.
Thou, that with blood abroad buy'st us our peace!
The breath of kings is like the breath of gods;
My brother wish'd thee here, and thou art here.
He will be too kind, and weary thee
With often welcomes. But the time doth give thee
A welcome above his, or all the world's.
Melantius.
My lord, my thanks; but these scratch'd limbs of mine
Have spoke my love and truth unto my friends,
More than my tongue e'er could. My mind's the same
It ever was to you: Where I find worth,
I love the keeper till he let it go,
And then I follow it.
Diphilus.
Hail, worthy brother!
He, that rejoices not at your return
In safety, is mine enemy for ever.
Melantius.
I thank thee, Diphilus. But thou art faulty;
I sent for thee to exercise thine arms
With me at Patria: Thou camest not, Diphilus;
'Twas ill.
Diphilus.
My noble brother, my excuse
Is my king's strict command; which you, my lord,
Can witness with me.
Lysippus.
'Tis true, Melantius;
He might not come, till the solemnity
Of this great match was past.
Diphilus.
Have you heard of it?
Melantius.
Yes. I have given cause to those that envy
My deeds abroad, to call me gamesome:
I have no other business here at Rhodes.
Lysippus.
We have a masque to-night, and you must tread
A soldier's measure.
Melantius.
These soft and silken wars are not for me:
The music must be shrill, and all confused,
That stirs my blood; and then I dance with arms.
But is Amintor wed?
Diphilus.
This day.
Melantius.
All joys upon him! for he is my friend.
Wonder not that I call a man so young my friend:
His worth is great; valiant he is, and temperate;
And one that never thinks his life his own,
If his friend need it. When he was a boy,
As oft as I returned (as, without boast,
I brought home conquest) he would gaze upon me,
And view me round, to find in what one limb
The virtue lay to do those things he heard.
Then would he wish to see my sword, and feel
The quickness of the edge, and in his hand
Weigh it: He oft would make me smile at this.
His youth did promise much, and his ripe years
Will see it all perform'd.

Enter ASPATIA.

Hail, maid and wife!
Thou fair Aspatia, may the holy knot
That thou hast tied to-day, last till the hand
Of age undo it! may'st thou bring a race
Unto Amintor, that may fill the world
Successively with soldiers!

Aspatia.
My hard fortunes
Deserve not scorn; for I was never proud
When they were good.
[Exit.
Melantius.
How's this?
Lysippus.
You are mistaken,
For she is not married.
Melantius.
You said Amintor was.
Diphilus.
'Tis true; but——
Melantius.
Pardon me, I did receive
Letters at Patria from my Amintor,
That he should marry her.
Diphilus.
And so it stood
In all opinion long: but your arrival
Made me imagine you had heard the change.
Melantius.
Who hath he taken then?
Lysippus.
A lady, sir,
That bears the light about her, and strikes dead
With flashes of her eye: the fair Evadne,
Your virtuous sister.
Melantius.
Peace of heart betwixt them!
But this is strange.
Lysippus.
The king my brother did it
To honour you; and these solemnities
Are at his charge.
Melantius.
'Tis royal, like himself. But I am sad
My speech bears so unfortunate a sound
To beautiful Aspatia. There is rage
Hid in her father's breast, Calianax,
Bent long against me; and he should not think,
If I could call it back, that I would take
So base revenges, as to scorn the state
Of his neglected daughter. Holds he still
His greatness with the king?
Lysippus.
Yes. But this lady
Walks discontented, with her watery eyes
Bent on the earth. The unfrequented woods
Are her delight; and when she sees a bank
Stuck full of flowers, she with a sigh will tell
Her servants what a pretty place it were
To bury lovers in; and make her maids
Pluck 'em, and strew her over like a corse.
She carries with her an infectious grief,
That strikes all her beholders; she will sing
The mournful'st things that ever ear hath heard,
And sigh, and sing again; and when the rest
Of our young ladies, in their wanton blood,
Tell mirthful tales in course, that fill the room
With laughter, she will, with so sad a look,
Bring forth a story of the silent death
Of some forsaken virgin, which her grief
Will put in such a phrase, that, ere she end,
She'll send them weeping, one by one, away.
Melantius.
She has a brother under my command,
Like her; a face as womanish as hers;
But with a spirit that hath much outgrown
The number of his years.

Enter AMINTOR.

Cleon.
My lord, the bridegroom!
Melantius.
I might run fiercely, not more hastily,
Upon my foe. I love thee well, Amintor;
My mouth is much too narrow for my heart;
I joy to look upon those eyes of thine;
Thou art my friend, but my disordered speech
Cuts off my love.
Amintor.
Thou art Melantius;
All love is spoke in that. A sacrifice,
To thank the gods Melantius is return'd
In safety! Victory sits on his sword,
As she was wont: May she build there and dwell;
And may thy armour be, as it hath been,
Only thy valour and thine innocence!
What endless treasures would our enemies give,
That I might hold thee still thus!
Melantius.
I am but poor
In words; but credit me, young man, thy mother
Could do no more but weep for joy to see thee
After long absence: All the wounds I have
Fetch'd not so much away, nor all the cries
Of widowed mothers. But this is peace,
And that was war.
Amintor.
Pardon, thou holy god
Of marriage bed, and frown not, I am forced,
In answer of such noble tears as those,
To weep upon my wedding-day.
Melantius.
I fear thou'rt grown too fickle; for I hear
A lady mourns for thee; men say, to death;
Forsaken of thee; on what terms I know not.
Amintor.
She had my promise; but the king forbade it,
And made me make this worthy change, thy sister,
Accompanied with graces far above her;
With whom I long to lose my lusty youth,
And grow old in her arms.
Melantius.
Be prosperous!

Enter Messenger.

Messenger.
My lord, the masquers rage for you.
Lysippus.
We are gone. Cleon, Strato, Diphilus—
[Exeunt Lysippus, Cleon, Sirato, and Diphilus.
Amintor.
We'll all attend you.—We shall trouble you
With our solemnities.
Melantius.
Not so, Amintor:
But if you laugh at my rude carriage
In peace, I'll do as much for you in war,
When you come thither. Yet I have a mistress
To bring to your delights; rough though I am,
I have a mistress, and she has a heart
She says; but, trust me, it is stone, no better;
There is no place that I can challenge in't.
But you stand still, and here my way lies.
[Exeunt severally.